DVD Review: BTOOOM! – The Complete Series

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Gaming becomes reality as several people are thrown onto a mysterious island in a fight to the death, but with everyone a potential enemy who can you trust? Well we are going to find out as MVM Entertainment’s latest DVD release is non-other than BTOOOM! – The Complete Series. What lies ahead in this explosive release? Find out in our Review.

Synopsis:

In the blink of the mind’s eye, Ryuta Sakamoto suddenly finds himself transported from playing the hit BTOOOM! video game to being stranded on a mysterious island. He’s equipped with a day’s worth of provisions, a bag of bombs, a strange crystal embedded in his left hand, and a huge gaping hole in his memory. But it doesn’t take long to figure out what’s going on, especially after the first person Ryuta meets tries to kill him.

Someone is attempting to recreate the ultra-violent BTOOOM! game in real life, and the island has been filled with an army of other unwilling players, each armed with one of the multiple variants of explosive weapons called BIM. Fortunately, Ryuta’s an ace BTOOOM! player, but this insane version of the game has no reset switch or second lives, and there’s only one way off the island: kill seven other people before they can kill you! Can Ryuta repurpose his game-based skills fast enough to survive this ultimate battle royale?

Our View:

As the synopsis suggests BTOOOM! follows the events of Ryuta Sakamoto as he attempts to survive the hell-hole he has awoken into, whereby every person he encounters on the island wants to kill him so that they can take his chip. It’s a story that starts with a relatively blank slate and as the series progresses more clues surrounding this ‘death-game’ and how they came to be on the island become apparent, but with each answer found another is left being asked.

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It’s a unique series that doesn’t have a directive narrative, as BTOOOM! goes off in all-sorts of different directions to deliver the story, mostly to introduce the main cast of characters for the series. For instance the first two episodes introduce the main protagonist Ryuta Sakamoto, whereby they show his daily activities and appearance on the island, while later episodes introduce the alternate characters and their ‘abusive’ backstories, such as Kōsuke Kira. Each main character has a backstory to tell along with secrets they want to keep, and it’s what makes BTOOOM! so entertaining to watch, and that’s before you get to the action and violent battle scenes.

Most anime series have rather ‘bland’ set of characters, of course we care if they succeed or die but we don’t care about what has previously happened to them, in BTOOOM! it’s the opposite, as we want to know more about them to know if we should care about them. For example Himiko is a high-school girl and distrusts men entirely, why exactly? Because a music group she knew raped her friends and tried to rape her, additionally one of the younger opponents loves killing people, why? Because he was abused by his farther and doesn’t know how to let his emotions out. These are not your typical backstories, they are cold, dark and disgusting but they are what make BTOOOM so unique, everyone has an explanation into how they came to be and as the series goes on more blanks are filled-in and the bigger picture can be seen.

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It’s a constant moving story, and that’s before you get to the main issue of why they are on the island in the first place. It’s explained that each person on the island was sent there by someone they know or had involvement with, and the only way to escape is to acquire seven chips with these chips acting as sonar devices. Once a person has eight chips in total then they can leave the island, but here is the catch – in order to get a chip you must kill the person wearing it, otherwise it will not come off. How exactly? By using the BIMBs, small explosive devices that are similar to the online game BTOOOM! It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, whereby the strong and tactical survive and the weak die, but with Ryuta Sakamoto an ace player at BTOOOM has kind of has an advantage over some people. Action, Violence, Brutality and Dark Secrets are what lie in wait for the viewer, but be warned this series is for matures audiences only.

Extras:

Those wishing for a variety of extra content to be included with their UK DVD Release of BTOOOM! then rejoice, as both DVD Discs are filled with additional viewing material.

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Both discs are of equal worth, with the first disc containing Japanese Promotional Materials and the clean opening animations while the second DVD disc contains the mini-digest episodes and a variety of trailers.

Disc 1:

  • Clean Opening Animation
  • Clean Closing Animation
  • Japanese Promos
  • Japanese TV Spots

Disc 2:

  • Trailers
  • Clean Opening Animation
  • Clean Closing Animation
  • BTOOOM! Digest 1
  • BTOOOM! Digest 2

At first I found it rather amusing to have clean opening and closing animations on both discs, however upon closer inspection the animations are different. Those on Disc 1 are for the entire series, while those on Disc 2 are taken from the last episode. So it’s nice that the whole bunch of clean opening (and closing) animations have been included.

The alternative extras, namely the BTOOOM! Digest episodes, are a quick overview and recap of the characters (or players) that Ryuta Sakamoto and Himiko meet throughout the series, so I’d recommend watching these after you’ve watched the series otherwise you may encounter some spoilers.

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The final extra content is a variety of trailers for other anime releases, some of which have been licensed for UK distribution by MVM Entertainment. The trailers included are Revolutionary Girl Utena, La Storia Della Arcana Famiglia, Little Busters, Kokoro Connect and Girls Und Panzer, however there is an issue with the menu regarding the trailers. Whichever trailer you select it always start at the beginning of the list, this is mostly due to chapter markers not being put on the disc when it was authored by Hanabee. It’s not a major problem, but can be a bit unexpected.

Specs:

Media:  DVD 9 x2
Region: 2
Running Time:  2:28:58 (Disc 1 & Disc 2)
Video: MPEG-2
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 448kbps (English & Japanese)
Subtitles: English (Yellow)
Resolution: 720 x 576 (576i)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Widescreen
Frame Rate: 25 fps

Overall:

BTOOOM! Is one of those series that doesn’t come around too often, it’s realistic enough to provide a decent backdrop, but at the same time it’s story is pure fiction, but in terms of what to expect it’s a cross between the Battle Royale and the Hunger Games. The storyline is pretty simple, a selection of people are dropped off onto a  remote island whereby they must kill each other in order to escape, however dig deeper and you’ll find a more complex storyline with dark secrets and shady business deals. This is BTOOOM! and it’s bloody good.

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You may wonder why a series such as BTOOOM can be considered realistic, and the answer is simple. The series has a lot of flashbacks to past characters events, whereby they depict everyday normal-life scenarios, such as hanging out with friends, playing video-games online, arguing with parents – and so on, it’s these every-day occurences that viewers can relate to and in my opinion it adds some backbone and realistic values to the storyline. Of course when the series shifts back into survival mode on an island with bombs (bimbs) its pure fiction, but even then real-life morals are put into question. Would you kill to stay alive? In a normal situation the answer is no, but in BTOOOM it’s not a normal situation.

It’s not just the series story (and tactical use of combat) that is entertaining either as the English Dub produced by Sentai Filmworks (Section23 Films) is actually extremely good. From time to time it does have a few minor flaws, especially in the later stages, but on the whole its an extremely well-produced and presented dub, which begs the question “why can’t this type of dubbing quality be done for all Sentai produced titles?” In regards to audio, both the Japanese and English audio tracks are presented clearly through the speakers – and if connected to a surround sound kit the series can offer a cinematic style, even though its only in stereo.

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Overall this UK DVD Release of BTOOOM is top-quality entertainment presented on a top-quality produced DVD, there is a few issues (such as the lack of chapter points on the trailers) but the overall quality of the DVD overshadows it. If you are looking for a constantly developing storyine mixed with explosions and a quest for survival then BTOOOM is definitely worth looking into, but be warned it does contain a lot of mature topics that some viewers my find discomforting to watch.

Score: review-stars-5

BTOOOM! – The Complete Series will be available on DVD from the 17th March 2014.

About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

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